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Play Guitar Faster

Many guitarists wish they could play guitar faster. The good news is, anyone can train themselves to play fast. You just need to put in the time. Today we will discuss some simple exercises to help you gain the strength and dexterity necessary to play guitar faster. All you need is a guitar, a metronome and the drive to improve!

Play Guitar Faster: Speed Building Exercises

In order to play guitar faster, you must first develop the pick hand technique known as alternate-picking. Alternate-picking involves strumming individual strings with a successive down-up pattern. Begin with a relatively simple rhythmic subdivision, such as eighth notes, and choose an open string to practice on. Lets start with the sixth string, or low E string. Get used to strumming the E string with a downward pick attack, followed by an upward pick attack. Always allow the picking motion to come from the wrist and not from the elbow. Now it’s time to put this exercise into context by incorporating a metronome. You should start out with a slow tempo and gradually increase the speed. Set the metronome to play quarter notes at 60 beats per minute and try to alternate pick eighth notes on the low E string. Each click of the metronome will be the down-pick, which you will follow with an up-pick before the next click. Focus on playing as smoothly and evenly as possible. Once you are comfortable at this tempo, bump the metronome up to 70 beats per minute and start over. In addition to trying different tempos, you should also try alternate-picking on different strings and different frets. You are now on the path to playing guitar faster!

The next exercise we will focus on involves alternate-picking a series of notes rather than just one note. This will help to develop the dexterity of your fretting hand, as well as the coordination required for both hands to play together. Begin on the first fret of the sixth string with your first finger. Pick this note with a downward motion. Next play the second fret of the sixth string with your second finger. This note will be picked with an upward motion. Now play the third fret of the sixth string with your third finger and pick with a downward motion. Finally, play the forth fret of the sixth string with your fourth finger and pick with an upward motion. Now move to the fifth string and repeat these steps, followed by the fourth, third, second and first strings respectively. At this point you will shift your fretting hand up one half-step and begin the descending portion of this exercise. With your fourth finger on the fifth fret of the first string, pick using a downward motion. Next will be your third finger on the fourth fret of the same string using an upward picking motion. Follow this with your second finger on the third fret of the first string and pick using a downward motion. Finish the first string with your first finger on the second fret using an upward pick motion. As before, repeat these steps successively until you end on the second fret of the sixth string. Now move up another half-step and start all over again. Repeat this process up the fingerboard, perhaps to the twelfth fret or until your fretting hand feels fatigued and you need a break. You could even continue the exercise back down the fingerboard until you return to the original starting point of the sixth string, first fret. Be sure to practice this exercise with a metronome while focusing on playing the notes as evenly as possible. Click HERE to see the music notation and TAB notation for this exercise.

With the skills you will develop from these exercises, you will begin to play guitar faster! Try to incorporate these exercises into your daily practice routine and remember to use a metronome to track your progress. Most importantly, have fun!

Daniel Saunders

Daniel Saunders

Daniel is the Guitar Program Supervisor at Let’s Play Music and Make Art, LLC. He holds a degree in Music Performance from the Musicians Institute in California where he taught for nearly ten years. He is also published through Hal Leonard for Guitar World Magazine Video Lessons.

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